January 25, 2012
"The Artist" is the odds on favorite now to get the Oscar Best Picture crown, since it had just won the Producers' Guild nod. Everything about it will make you think twice before watching it. It is a SILENT film, in BLACK AND WHITE, with unknown FRENCH actors. Thanks to the awards hype it is getting though, audiences will search this out, as did I.
The story is not the biggest selling point of the film. It is silent, so there can only be so much that can be told by facial expressions, big actions and the occasional dialog card. The story line is very simple, and very familiar, and can be summarized in one sentence: It is about a silent film star who will eventually be surpassed in the industry by the girl he helped get into films, just as silents gave way to talkies in the 1930s. If this same story was told in the current way, it would have been panned. So the novelty gimmick of director/writer Michel Hazanavicius worked in this case, but I do not think it will revive a trend for black & white silent films.
The lead character George Valentin is played by Jean Dujandin. The starlet he helped launch Peppy Miller is played by Berenice Bejo. The lead actors were both very charming. They possess the facial qualities which convince us that they were indeed from that era of film. The debonair Dujardin, in particular, goes through the gamut of emotion without a word uttered until the very end. This will make him a prime candidate for Oscar's Best Actor, a prize he already won in Cannes. Much have been said about the character of Valentin's dog, played by Jack Russell terrier Uggie. He's cute alright, but to push him for Best Supporting Actor is a stretch.
Overall, do go watch "The Artist" and enjoy a different kind of movie experience! I am sure you will be entertained.